Meanderings around the Ashtabula County Metroparks: Lampson Reservoir
Blog: by Sheryl
Here I am, checking out the Lampson Reservoir Metropark on this beautiful sunny autumn afternoon.
When I arrived, there was one lone car in the parking lot, and a nature photographer off in the distance. I’ve been here several times to sit and gaze at the rippling of the water as crappie, largemouth bass and carp break through the plane of the smooth water. Today, though, the only fishing taking place is by several Canada Geese and ducks. Two geese are standing close together on the dock, one of them perched on one leg! I think it is doing one of the yoga poses it observed during our sunset yoga class here earlier this summer!
As I scan the numerous wood duck boxes, it appears that some of them are indeed occupied! Hurray!
Before embarking on my hike, another car arrives with 2 bicycles on a bike rack. Shortly, a young couple take advantage of a picnic table under the shade of a tree overlooking the reservoir for their lunch. I have a feeling that they’re headed to the Western Reserve Greenway Trail afterwards.
I start down the well-marked path, forewarned by the nature photographer that I may wind up with wet feet.
Although my feet did not get wet, there were several areas where the water was spilling over the banks of the reservoir. Did someone mention that we got 5 inches of rain earlier this week?! I am confident that once I get into the woods that any wet areas won’t be a problem thanks to the many boardwalks and bridges over the boggy areas installed by our Metroparks Volunteers this summer!
The first thing that I come across along the trail are some woody shrubs with red berries that appear to be honeysuckle, along with lots of purple asters, goldenrod, pink clover, & another white variety of asters resembling tiny daisies. I am happy to see these wildflowers, because it tells me that this area is free of pesticides and a great way for pollinators to feed on an uncontaminated food source. I realize that I am not alone, as dragonflies, bumblebees, monarch butterflies and other butterfly species zoom about. Uh oh, I never thought to wear any type of repellent as I am starting to see mosquitoes, but surprisingly, I did not get even one single bite!
The trail proceeds along the banks of Mill Creek, and I begin to hear the sounds of a waterfall! Along the way, I spot horse hoof tracks, deer tracks, and some scattered acorns. Several bullfrogs jump into the mud puddles as I walk by. The creatures of the forest serenade me: chipmunks, squirrels, a Pileated Woodpecker, tree frogs, a Red Tailed Hawk, and scolding blue jays.
As I approach the banks of the river for a better view of the waterfall, I startle an American Black Duck who hastily ascends across the water to “safer grounds”.
There is a strategically placed park bench in this location which is perfect for resting a spell and taking in the sounds of the rushing water.
When I begin again, I notice an area with an unusually large number of thin pieces of sycamore bark strewn about the forest floor. It is normal for sycamore trees to shed their bark, but this seems excessive. I am fairly certain, though, that the cause is the excessive rainfall this past year which resulted in a larger than normal growth of the cambium layer directly beneath the bark.
As I continue along the trail, I keep searching for the source of all of that shedded bark. I find some smaller sycamores, but they certainly could not have been the source of this. I then look way way up, and there it is, a stately sycamore , over 75 feet tall!
I am jilted back to reality when a gentleman on a mountain bike goes whizzing by. He shouts, “Hi! Glad to see someone else out here in the park!” And continues on his way. He passes me again on his way back, a local pastor out for some invigorating exercise and forest therapy.
Admittedly, there are a couple of areas where the trail splits and I am uncertain of which way to go. In one instance, there is a huge blue arrow painted on a tree to direct me, but the second time I’m just guessing. I am sure that the Metroparks will remedy this in short order.
On my way back, I startle a Great Blue Heron, who is almost as big as me! I am awe struck by its smooth and graceful flight.
Arriving back in the parking lot there is now a fisherman out on the end of the pier, and a mama and her baby standing close by. I choose not to intrude to ask what’s biting today. Maybe next time…..